Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley: People from the South Whitley area gather to watch slides of historical photos preserved through the Whitko Community Digital Image Project.
SOUTH WHITLEY â âWhat I like about photographs is that they capture a moment thatâs gone forever, impossible to reproduce,â said designer, Karl Lagerfeld.
Capturing memories and encapsulating history in photos is what the Whitko Community Digital Image Project is working to do.
For the past two years, Joan Hostetler, in collaboration with her company, Heritage Photo and Research Services, has been partnering with the South Whitley and Pierceton libraries to scan historical photographs.
âI am from Pierceton originally and now I live in Indianapolis. My company specializes in restoration and preservation of photographs,â said Hostetler. âIt dawned on me that I should do this for my own community.
âI knew a man in Pierceton that had a big collection of photos with no names on the back. I thought if something happens to him all that history is gone. Scanning photos is truly a way to preserve that history.â
The project became a joint venture when both Pierceton and South Whitley libraries decided to co-sponsor the work. Together, Hostetler said they have 8,000 scans.
According to Hostetler, $38,000 in grant money was used to purchase computers and scanners for the historical preservation project. That equipment will stay at the libraries in order to continue scanning once Hostetler and her company are done.
âWe were thinking that we would be done at the end of the year, but weâve been training the South Whitley library on how to scan and catalog the scans so they can keep adding to it once we are done,â said Hostetler.
All the photos scanned are cataloged by Library of Congress standards and become word searchable. The photos will be added to the Indiana State Libraryâs website under, Indiana Memory.
âIt is great because you can search for specific things,â said Hostetler. âIf you put in the name, âEberly,â youâll get all the photos that have anything to do with that name.â
Hostetler said when her parents died, the photographs she came across struck her interest.
âWhen we sold my parents farm and were going through photos, we found that my mom, who worked for the bank in Pierceton, had so many photos that I thought people would like.â
That got Hostetler thinking and eventually she launched a website under the name Memories of Pierceton which then led to the current scanning project.
The South Whitley and Pierceton libraries are still looking for photos. Hostetler said the photos do not have to be of historical people or events, other types are photos are needed.
âWhat we really need are class photos,â said Hostetler. âThe photos people have donât even have to be old. Even current photos of the town, school or events are good photos to scan. Eventually those photos will be old. So it would be good to scan them now while they are in good condition.â
The other part of the project is the sense of community the scans create. Hostetler said when people bring in photos, it sparks memories and story-telling.
âOne ladyâs father was a baker and she used to ride with him to make his deliveries when she was a girl. She told me she would love to have a picture of her dadâs bakery. We had someone else come in with a picture and it was of her dad and his delivery car. The other manâs father had worked at the bakery so he had a picture of the car,â recounted Hostetler.
Because Hostetler lives in Indianapolis, she said she comes up to the area about four to five days a month to work on the scans. But in the meantime, people can bring their photos to the library where they will be kept safely until they are scanned.
For more information or to donate to the Whitko Community Digital Image project, contact Hostetler at (317) 639-2814 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To turn in photos for the project or for more information, visit the South Whitley Cleveland Township Public Library at www.swhitley.libguides.com. Photos can be viewed on Facebook at Whitko Community Digital Image Project.